Top 10 Food Trends for 2008

October 28, 2008

I recently read an article about the top 10 food trends this year.  This is relative to our food clients’ changing practices AND what messages about the food rises to the surface and resonates with their / our consumers’ tastes and changing diets.  

Top 10 Food Trends for 2008
By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

‘Locavores,’ bold flavors, and healthier choices will be hot, experts predict.
What new food trends are in store (the grocery store, that is) for 2008? According to the experts, 2008 might be called the year of ethical eating. Consumers are looking for more locally grown foods that support a healthier environment and a healthier lifestyle.

“Locavore” — a person who seeks out locally grown and produced foods — was designated the 2007 word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, and eating locally is also is anticipated to be the biggest food trend of 2008. Experts say we can also expect consumers to think more holistically about their food — questioning where it came from, its packaging, and its ecological footprint.

Americans are also expected to experiment this year with exotic foods with bold flavors — like goji berries, yumberries, pomegranates, blood oranges, colored and flavored salts, and grains such as red rice, amaranth, and black quinoa.

And, experts predict we can look forward to more healthy choices on grocery store shelves. People want foods that are convenient, fill them up, taste good, and will help them lose weight, says American Dietetic Association President Connie Diekman, MEd, RD.

Soups, salads, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein are examples of these healthy foods that multitask. Manufacturers are also expected to continue to create more portion-controlled packages of foods (like the popular 100-calorie snack packs).

Here’s more of what diet and nutrition experts have named as the top food trends for 2008:

Food Trend No. 1: Eco-Friendly Foods

Increasingly, consumers want to know more about their food — where it was grown, what ingredients it contains, how it was packaged, and the footprint its production left on the earth.

“It is the evolution of organics that consumers want to know and understand more about the foods they eat,” says “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert, food trends editor and correspondent for NBC’s Today Show.  “You may choose a locally grown product over one that is organic because the food is fresher and its footprint is smaller.”

Food Trend No. 2: Local, Natural, and Fresh Foods

On a similar note, we’re likely to see more farmers markets and community co-ops, as well as more locally grown foods in mainstream grocery stores. Consumers are also said to be scrutinizing imported foods more carefully these days, and looking for those from countries that have very high safety standards.

Food Trend No. 3: Concern About Food Safety

No one wants to repeat the scares we had in 2007, when tainted pet food, peanut butter, ground beef, and other products made headlines. “Consumers are demanding safe food for us and our pets, and want the government to update the food safety system so we can have confidence that our food supply is safe,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Jeannie Moloo, PhD, RD. 

Food Trend No. 4: Higher Prices

 

Food prices are expected to continue rising, which experts say will cause consumers to rethink their purchasing patterns. “Higher food prices will push consumers out of the fresh produce section into the freezer or canned food aisles to re-evaluate other options that can be just as nutritious,” says Lempert.

Food Trend No. 5: Prebiotics and Probiotics

Consumers are learning that adding “friendly” bacteria to foods can help with digestion. And they’re not just for yogurt any more. We’ll be seeing the beneficial bacteria added to a wide variety of foods — including chocolate, predicts Moloo.

Food Trend No. 6: Whole Grains

Shoppers will continue to opt for more healthy whole grains, including exotic types aimed at tempting the jaded palates of baby boomers, experts say. “There are numerous health benefits of whole grains, and food manufacturers are making it easier to enjoy them with new products,” says Diekman. “Exotic grains such as amaranth, quinoa, teff, millet, and Kamut are going mainstream.”

Food Trend No. 7: Simple Ingredients and Clearer Labels

Increasingly, consumers don’t want ingredients they can’t pronounce, nor do they want artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, experts say. Look for more informative and clearer labels, and foods with just a handful of simple ingredients.

Food Trend No. 8: Emphasis on Lowering Salt

The American Medical Association has urged food manufacturers to lower the sodium in processed foods. “With an aging population and recommendations to lower sodium in our diets, companies are working to keep the same flavor profile and lower the sodium,” says Moloo.

Food Trend No. 9: Alternative Sweeteners

Alternative natural sweeteners like ultrasweet stevia (which is 300 times sweeter than table sugar) and zero-calorie erythritol will replace high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners in more beverages and foods, experts predict.

Food Trend No. 10: Bottled Water Backlash

Bottled water remains popular among consumers looking to cut down on calories and artificial sweeteners. But growing awareness of the impact all those empty plastic bottles have on the environment (and the fact that many brands of bottled water are nothing more than purified tap water) is expected to make this option less appealing, experts say.

 


The type of doughnut hole that’s not good for you.

October 24, 2008

An interesting article in BusinessWeek that explores a gap in the US Government’s Medicare Part D drug program.  Once the  coverage threshold is reached for a calendar year ($2,510 in 2008) elderly patients must pick up the full costs of their prescription drugs until the total hits $5,726.

From the article:

Only recently have pollsters been able to quantify the fallout of the doughnut hole. In August, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released results of a survey showing that in 2007, 26% of Part D beneficiaries—3.4 million people—reached the doughnut hole … on average, Part D patients who fell into the doughnut hole saw their monthly out-of-pocket costs double to $196.

One proposed solution is to have the govenment negotiate the prices of the drugs covered under the program (something it does not currently do).    Whatever the remedy, it’s obvious that given the current programs, and economic difficulties, patients are feeling the pinch.


Brillant and simple healthcare poster

October 16, 2008

I was introduced to an organization called 30 Reasons.

It’s a group of 30 graphic designers making up posters for each of the 30 days leading up to the Presidential election … each being a reason to vote for B.O.

I love today’s poster.
What an amazingly simple and poignant idea …

Check it out @ : http://www.30reasons.org/


“Build a Better Health Care System, Win $10 Million”

October 15, 2008

An article on the WSJ web site that announces a $10mm prize being offered for the best solution that lowers health care costs while improving the quality of the care.

The prize is being coordinated by the X Prize Foundation (former sponsors of contests to build a 100 m.p.g. car and send a robot to the moon) while WellPoint (an insurance company) is putting up the $10 million dollars.

Seems like a great time to put pencil to paper.  A quick excerpt below.  Additional details here.

“It’s not entirely clear yet what the targets will be. But they will probably include some combination of lowering costs and improving health outcomes, Brad Fluegel, WellPoint’s Chief Strategy Officer, told us. (Yes, we know WellPoint’s an insurer and it’s in their interest to lower costs. But when health care costs rising toward 20% of GDP, the interest in lowering health costs goes beyond insurers.)”

Source wsj.com


Are Bad Times Good For Your Health?

October 15, 2008

An interesting article in the NYT.com “Health” section that explores whether challenging economic times are good for one’s health, or bad, in regard to the availability of health insurance for the recently unemployed and the increasing costs of health care itself.

The end of the article sums it up the best:

“In this country, there are already signs of the economy’s effect on health. In May, the market research firm Information Resources reported that 53 percent of consumers said they were cooking from scratch more than they did just six months before — in part, no doubt, because of the rising cost of prepared foods. At the same time, health insurance costs are rising. With premiums and co-payments, the average employee with insurance pays nearly one-third of medical costs — about twice as much as four years ago, according to Paul H. Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

In the United States, which unlike other industrialized nations lacks a national health plan, the looming recession may take a greater toll. About 46 million Americans lack health insurance, Dr. Keckley says, and even among the 179 million who have it, an estimated 1 in 7 would be bankrupted by a single health crisis.

The economic downturn “is not good news for the health care industry,” he said. “There may be slivers of positive, but I view this as sobering.””